Sainsbury's to raise staff pay by 4%
Sainsbury's has given its shop workers a 4% pay rise, the highest increase in more than a decade, to take staff wages to just above average for the sector.
It says 137,000 of its workers will see their pay rise from £7.08 an hour to £7.36 from the end of this month.
The new rate will also apply to its 40,000 workers who are under 25.
According to the British Retail Consortium the median wages for hourly-paid workers in the retail industry currently stands at £7.30 an hour.
Sainsbury's said its wage increase was "affordable" but did not disclose the additional cost to its overall wage bill.
Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe praised the hard work and dedication of his staff.
Mr Coupe also said the company was one of the biggest tax payers in the UK.
"We think we contribute a lot to the exchequer and I think we can more than pay our way," he told BBC Breakfast.
Under plans announced in the Budget, workers aged over 25 in the UK will be paid a minimum of £7.20 an hour from April next year, rising to £9 by 2020. This compares to a minimum wage of £6.50 at present.
Some retailers, pub groups and care home providers have criticised the move, warning it could lead to higher prices, job losses or the closure of some care homes.
So what are standard hourly rates of pay at the other UK main grocers?
Tesco already pays its shop workers £7.39 an hour although staff are facing a pay freeze this year.
Morrisons says it pays a minimum of £6.83, outside London and several other locations. It has yet to set its new annual rate.
Asda said its hourly rate of pay is currently £6.89, outside of London, a figure which will increase to £7.00 in October as part of its annual pay review.
The shop workers' union Usdaw welcomed Sainsbury's pay increase.
"I'm pleased the company has listened to us as significant increases in retail pay is long overdue," said national officer Joanne McGuinness.
"We meet with the company every year and make a strong case for decent rewards for staff, particularly around pay, and the new rate of £7.36 is a step in that direction.
"For the small number of staff not covered by the increase we will make representations to the company to address this issue."